Flint Canyon Trail Repairs Top City Council’s ‘Wish List’

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council approved an application to seek federal funding for at least one of four city projects during a meeting on Tuesday.
Staff was recently contacted by the office of Congressman Adam Schiff notifying them of the opportunity to apply for federal funding and that the application was due on Friday, April 9.
With very little time to evaluate more options, LCF Division Manager Ann Wilson presented four projects — Flint Canyon Trail repairs, Community Center renovation, air conditioning for Lanterman Auditorium and the construction of soundwall segments — that possibly fit the criteria of the funding and asked the city council to rank them.
The four City Council members in attendance — councilmember Rick Gunter was not present — all agreed to place the Flint Canyon Trail repair at the top of the list. The city has attempted to secure funding for the repair and restoration of the downslope of Flint Canyon Trail for years. LCF was successful in receiving a $300,000 grant from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy but that only covers a small portion of the overall cost, which is estimated at $6 million.
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City Council Gets Preview of NASA’s JPL Mission to Mars

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory new mission to Mars took center stage at the La Cañada Flintridge City Council meeting this week ahead of its scheduled Mars 2020 Perseverance rover landing on the red planet on Thursday.
JPL Director Michael Watkins and Mars Helicopter Project Manager Mimi Aung gave a thrilling presentation before the council as to how Perseverance and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will touch down, with the help from two robotic devices from orbit.
“This is one of those times we’re super proud to work at JPL and also live in La Cañada Flintridge; the eyes of the world are upon us here,” Watkins told council members.
The much-anticipated landing is expected at about 12:55 p.m. on Thursday, with a signal of confirmation expected to be received 11 minutes and 22 seconds later, the time of the distance the signal has to travel from Mars to earth.
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County Settles Lawsuit Over Devil’s Gate Dam Project

Photo courtesy Los Angeles County Public Works
A settlement recently reached between the Los Angeles County Flood Control District and two nonprofits that had sued over environmental issues regarding the Devil’s Gate Dam Project will shrink the 70-acre project by about 14 acres and limit the scope of future maintainance in the area.

After years of litigation, Los Angeles County reached a settlement over the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project, agreeing to limit the long-term scope of the controversial “Big Dig.”
The settlement, which county supervisors approved Tuesday, requires the county Flood Control District to exclude 14 acres from the project, which has sought to remove up to 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment from behind the dam, according to the agreement.
Additionally, roughly 6 additional acres will be maintained less frequently than other sections of the Hahamongna Watershed Park after the project concludes, decreasing the amount of digging that needs to be done there in future years.
Altogether, the settlement reduces the project area from 70 acres to 50 acres that will need to be maintained. The settlement also limits the county to 220,000 cubic yards of earth dug per year during its maintenance period after the main project ends.
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City Council Adopts Approximately $30M Preliminary Budget

Memorial Park fence repairs and a social media intern position were among so-called consideration items that fell by the wayside as the La Cañada Flintridge City Council closed a $3.1 million funding gap and unanimously adopted an approximately $30 million preliminary budget on Monday.
A final budget will be presented to the council for adoption in July, according to City Manager Mark Alexander, who explained that to sustain municipal operations, the council needed to OK the preliminary budget before the new fiscal year began on Wednesday.
Consideration items included several projects submitted to the council for approval, including street resurfacing and air quality monitoring for the Devil’s Gate Dam sediment removal project. Council members greenlit most of the fund requests, but some had to be rejected or reduced to keep the preliminary budget afloat before Monday’s 5-0 vote.
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City OKs New Ordinance on Accessory Dwelling Units

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a new ordinance regarding accessory dwelling units based on the recommendation of the Planning Commission’s staff.
The ordinance, which had a first reading before the council on May 19, “would streamline the permitting of ADUs and junior accessory dwelling units in accordance with recent state legislation,” Director of Community Development Susan Koleda told the council before it voted. The new policy also will allow ADUs up to 800 square feet and 16 feet high, with setbacks that would be a minimum of 4 feet in the side and rear yards. It also permits ADUs and JDUs on every family lot and limits off-street parking requirements consistent with state law.
“This is an improvement over the last ordinance,” Koleda said, “including how we measure 16-foot height, with clarifications to other sections of the ordinance, which is far more easily understandable to the public and developers trying to construct ADUs.”
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HEROES Act Could Benefit LCF, City Council is Told By Schiff

The La Cañada Flintridge City Council convened for a regular meeting on Tuesday and had a special guest to discuss local and national issues, most notably the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) joined the council to elucidate the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, a new relief package passed by the House of Representatives last Friday but is currently stagnant in the Senate.
The $3 trillion HEROES Act would provide Americans with a second stimulus check as well as provide financial relief to businesses, and state and local governments affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have to think members of both parties recognize the difficulty their constituents are facing right now,” Schiff told councilmembers. “That would be really a disservice to our common constituents if we were to let cities go bankrupt or have to lay off their teachers or first responders. We have funding for the school districts also to help with those issues.”
The package would provide hazard pay for personnel on the front lines during the pandemic, such as hospital workers, bus drivers and grocery store employees. Schiff also noted that it would support homeowners, homeless and food benefits.
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City Hears of ‘Big Dig’ Resuming Amid Pandemic Concerns

Trucks are expected to begin hauling dirt and debris from the Devil’s Gate Dam once again Tuesday, with the controversial “Big Dig” project entering its second year of sediment removal, La Cañada Flintridge City Council members were informed this week.
La Cañada Flintridge 4 Healthy Air co-founder Elizabeth Krider gave the update and applauded councilmembers for their attentiveness to residents’ concerns about how diesel exhaust and dust from the trucks would affect air quality, though she cautioned that work is still needed to be done to ensure standards are enforced and followed.
The project, which aims to remove 1.7 million cubic yards of dirt from behind the dam at Hahamongna Watershed Park in phases across four years to increase flood protection and restore the habitat, sparked concerns from local residents after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved it in November 2017.
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La Cañada Council Picks Davitt as Mayor; Inducts Eich, Gunter

Michael Davitt

Amid a notable lack of fanfare due to social distancing, Michael Davitt was chosen unanimously as mayor of La Cañada Flintridge at a virtual City Council meeting on Tuesday, which also featured the installation of new members Keith Eich, Rick Gunter and incumbent Terry Walker.

The meeting, which typically would have celebrated the council re-organization after an election, with special recognition to new members and those leaving office — which this term includes Gregory Brown and Leonard Pieroni — was held quickly and from the privacy of separate locations.

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City Talks Coronavirus Measures, Ratifies LCF Emergency

Among topics of discussion, eight local confirmed cases of COVID-19 were discussed by the La Cañada Flintridge City Council during a special meeting Tuesday night.
“If you look at the per capita rate, we’re way up there,” said Councilman Gregory Brown. “If you look at all the cities in L.A. County, we’re in the top 10% of per capita basis.”
The city’s eight confirmed cases were according to Los Angeles County Public Health, as of Wednesday. Earlier statistics had lumped LCF data together with Montrose and La Crescenta, but that is no longer the case, Brown noted.
Meanwhile, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station Captain Todd Deeds told the council that everyone in the city has been “extremely” cooperative in trying to comply with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Shelter in Place” order announced last month, giving directives on social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus. A deputy at the local farmers’ market on Saturday spoke to some attendees about social distancing and they cooperated, Deeds said.
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Walker, Eich, Gunter Officially Win Council Seats; School Parcel Tax Victorious

With the results now officially certified, it is confirmed the La Cañada Flintridge City Council will have some new and familiar faces.
Councilwoman Terry Walker, city Public Works and Traffic Commissioner Keith Eich and former Planning Commissioner Rick Gunter were certified on March 27 by Los Angeles County as the victors in an election for three open council seats.
The new members will take the dais at a City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 7, said LCF City Manager Mark Alexander.
“The meeting will subsequently include the virtual swearing-in of Mr. Eich and Mr. Gunter and they will immediately assume office,” Alexander said in an email. “We will then have the selection of the new mayor and mayor pro tem.”
A more ceremonial swearing-in with friends and family, as well as recognition of retiring council members Leonard Pieroni and Gregory Brown, is likely to occur at a later date, Alexander said.
Meanwhile, the La Cañada Unified School District’s Measure LC passed with more than 70% of the ballots cast by registered voters in the LCUSD area in support. The parcel tax renewal needed two-thirds of voter support, or at least 66.7%, to pass.
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